A few decades ago, art required materials like paper, canvas, acrylic paints, magazine cutouts, or whatever else the artist used within their preferred art form. Since the birth of digital art, a computer or tablet is almost all you need to create a work of art. Today almost anyone can create a watercolor-inspired drawing of a chocolate cake or an oil-esque digital portrait of their brother without a dozen art supplies. 

Digital art is accessible but it can also feel overwhelming because there are so many types of digital art to explore. If you’re considering diving into digital art or want to see if a different digital art form is better for your workflow and skills, you can now take the time to check out twelve different digital art examples and how their features might work best for you.

Digital Art Explained

There are dozens of methods and materials used in traditional art forms and digital art has the ability to mimic almost all of them. With advanced digital brushes, lifelike canvases, and digital copies of tools like palette knives and scissors, you can create almost any art form through a digital lens. 

With digital illustration apps like Procreate, 3D animation platforms like Blender, and digital collage sites like Landing, you can explore a wide variety of art with a few clicks, scrolls, and taps. 

Types of Digital Art and Their Unique Features

Digital art is no longer just Microsoft Paint. There are now hundreds of websites and apps that allow artists to explore data-moshing, fractal art, 2D digital painting and more. A quick browse through these digital art mediums will help you start your digital art journey more quickly, avoid distraction and give yourself more time to dive into the medium you find the most intriguing. 

1. Vector Painting

A square-shaped graphic with “Book Bus” written on it is filled with little drawings including a rocket, the moon, books, an apple, and more. The graphic sits inside Adobe Illustrator.
Still from Skillshare class From Analog to Digital: An Introduction to Creating Digital Art by Brad Woodard
Adobe Illustrator only uses vector graphics to create images, which makes it a top choice for graphic designers. 

As a digital painting technique that uses mathematical formulas to create images, vector paintings are infinitely scalable. Artists often use vector painting for illustrations, logos, icons, animations, and motion graphics because vector graphics have very clean lines, high versatility, and the ability to create something that feels purely digital. 

2. Pixel Art

Contrary to vector painting, pixel art is a digital art form that works by using pixels as the building block of an image. You might have seen pixel art in video games from the 1990s, but it is still used today to create art with a retro feel. 

3. 3D Modeling

This is a screen capture from Blender. Inside you can see the workspace as well as a finished render of two pots on a shelf in a well-lit room.
Still from Skillshare class 3D Modeling In Blender: Design Your First 3D Object by Derek Elliot
Notice how the two different views of these pots on a shelf show that is a 3D image rather than a 3D one. 

The first fully 3D animated series in the United States was Veggie Tales, which came out in 1993. Today anybody can create their own 3D objects, characters, and animations within 3D modeling software. Architects often use 3D modeling to show their clients their plans for their home and designers use it to create digital prototypes of the products they’re creating.

4. Digital Painting

As one of the most popular and well-known digital art forms, digital painting uses modern technology to mimic the look of traditional painting mediums like watercolors, acrylics and oil paints. You can use digital painting to create images for a magazine, a storyboard for a TV series, or to create graphics like logos.   

5. 2D Digital Painting

Some artists refer to digital painting and 2D digital painting interchangeably, but 2D digital painting is a more specific term that refers to two-dimensional images like illustrations, logos, typeface, and icons rather than three-dimensional painting which could be used in painting texture or adding color to a 3D model. 

6. Photo Painting

This image is split down the middle into two parts. The left-hand part contains a picture of trees within Adobe Fresco with digital paint strokes added on top. The right-hand part shows an iPad opened up to the same Adobe Fresco screen on a table with a hand holding an Apple Pencil to the screen.
Still from Skillshare class Mindful Digital Art: 5 Creative Prompts for Personal Development by Morgan Harper Nichols
Artist Morgan Harper Nichols uses Adobe Fresco to paint on top of a photo of trees. 

If you’re passionate about both photography and digital art, you can combine your two interests with photo painting. With this digital art type, you upload a photo into apps like Procreate or Adobe Illustrator and enhance or restyle the image by digitally painting on top of it. You might enjoy photo painting if you like combining multiple techniques or don’t have a ton of previous painting skills. 

7. Raster Painting

Just like pixel art, raster painting uses pixels to create images. In the case of raster painting, the pixels are much smaller and usually aren’t visible to the human eye unless the viewer is zooming in. Artists like to use raster painting because it creates a more traditional art feel and can more easily mimic the organic shapes present in art forms like watercolor, gouache, and acrylics. 

8. Data-Moshing

If you’re unfamiliar with data-moshing, at first glance it might look like a glitchy picture or video. Artists use this unique digital art form to manipulate the data within a picture of video to create a corrupted or glitched look. Data-moshing artists create this surreal, warped look and feel by changing the frame rate, decoding the data, rearranging pixels or altering the audio track. 

9. Integrated Art

While integrated art can be created using traditional art mediums and materials, you can also create integrated art with digital techniques. Integrated art is any creation that combines two different art forms into one piece. For example, you could create a digital collage and then paint over it using digital painting or create a 3D animation and then data-mosh it for an abstract visual feel. 

10. Digital Collage

This digital collage contains a variety of elements including a sky made from an underwater photo, an orange slice representing the sun, tall red cliffs, and a body of water containing koi fish, lily pads, a ballerina, and a water droplet. 
Still from Skillshare class Create Collages That Tell a Story | A Procreate Class by Peggy Dean
The deeper you look into this collage the more hidden elements you’ll see. 

The beauty of digital collage is that you can move your elements around as much as you need without needing to glue or pin them down. Within most digital collage apps you have the ability to cut certain elements out of pictures and artwork as well as make edits to certain elements like adjusting its saturation, color, size and more. Apps like Adobe Photoshop, Landing, and Bazaart are common choices among digital collage artists. 

11. CGI Art

You’ve likely seen CGI art if you’ve watched movies like Avatar or The Lord of the Rings. This well-known digital art is created using computers and allows artists to produce synthetic images that can live on their own or interact with real-life footage. Interactive worlds like Minecraft or Grand Theft Auto use CGI to create a realistic digital world for their users. 

12. Fractal Art

Made using fractal generators, fractal art is a type of detailed digital art based on geometric patterns that repeat at smaller and smaller scales, making them infinitely detailed.  Fractal artists use algorithms to create works of art that look like they belong in a world far away. Scientists even use fractal art to model natural phenomena like snowflakes. 

Unleash Your Creativity with Digital Art

Being an artist doesn’t mean keeping yourself boxed into one art form. Even if you already love a traditional art form, take the next few weeks to explore digital art and see whether CGI art, raster painting, photo painting or another type speaks to you. 

Instead of getting stuck on where you want to start, remember to enjoy the journey and try to learn something through each art form you explore. If you’re looking for further inspiration or a deeper explanation of any of these digital art forms, Skillshare has digital art classes for every level. 

Written by:

Calli Zarpas